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November 16, 2016 7:25 am

An Open Letter to Evangelicals Who Voted for Donald Trump

avatar by Bernard Starr

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President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: Wikipedia.

President-elect Donald Trump. Photo: Wikipedia.

According to Christianity Today, more than 80 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. This major voting block was decisive, since evangelicals represent 20% of all registered voters; the greatest percentages of these voters are in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, W. Virginia, Arkansas, N. Carolina, Kentucky, S. Carolina, Mississippi and Kansas — all states carried by Trump.

Congratulations. You and your candidate won. And your support was critical in this victory.

But your enthusiastic endorsement of Mr. Trump, giving him a greater percentage of votes than George W. Bush in 2004, raises questions about what you really believe — not what you say you believe, but what your actions say about your beliefs.

According to every definition that I’ve researched, evangelical principles are derived from the life and teachings of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels of the New Testament Bible.

Did you vote for Donald Trump because he exemplifies the life and teachings of Jesus? You may try to wiggle out of that implication, but in elevating your candidate to the most powerful and influential position in the world you have tacitly sanctioned what he has personified. Thus:

Will you now say to someone who grabs you daughter’s genitals that it’s OK because that’s what Donald Trump bragged about doing in a recorded conversation?

Will you now cheer those who ridicule women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and countless others?

Will you now applaud someone who gloats about how smart he is for figuring out how to avoid paying taxes?

Will you now praise businessmen who don’t pay their workers or contractors for work they completed?

Will you now encourage others to set up learning institutions that charge exorbitant fees but don’t deliver what they promise?

Will you now envy someone who establishes a foundation for his personal benefit, with virtually no contribution from his personal fortune and little of the funds being used for genuine charities?

Will you now emulate those who tell you to buy American while they seek-out the lowest priced foreign goods?

Will you now encourage someone to refuse to divulge Federal tax returns for fear the documents will reveal shameful evidence of lying, avoiding taxes, earning income from businesses that cheat, divulge a lack of giving, show far less success in business than claimed, or expose business dealings with America’s adversaries to whom he or she may be indebted?

Will you now commend others who insist on deporting undocumented immigrants but who hire them for their businesses at low wages?

Will you now praise candidates who fact checkers say have lied 74% of the time?

Will you now revere the hubristic declaration: “I alone can fix the system?”

If many of these behaviors come back to bite you as they strip away America’s democracy, how will you explain your endorsement to your children and grandchildren? How will you explain your vote in a face-off with your professed religious and spiritual values?

More important, have you thought about what Jesus would say?

Check the Gospels. I think you may have missed something. Then meditate on Jesus’ last words, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” And ask: Is he talking to me?

When the consequences of your act of endorsement are fully played out, will you be able to forgive yourselves?

Don’t count on Donald Trump to ask for forgiveness. He has already admitted that he has never sought God for forgiveness: “I think if I do something wrong. I don’t bring God into that picture.”

When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to meet God, his followers, fearful about the future after gaining freedom and wandering in the desert, abandoned their faith for a false idol, the golden calf.

Have you now sacrificed your faith to worship at the altar of a new golden calf?

After compromising your cherished principles in exchange for Donald Trump’s promises to fulfill your hopes and dreams, will those commitments soon get flushed down his golden toilet?

Bernard Starr, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at the City University of New York (Brooklyn College). His latest book (expanded edition) is “Jesus, Jews, and Anti-Semitism in Art: How Renaissance Art Erased Jesus’ Jewish Identity and How Today’s Artists Are Restoring It.” He is also organizer of the art exhibit “Putting Judaism Back in the Picture: Toward Healing the Christian/Jewish Divide.” This article was originally published by The Huffington Post. Follow Bernard Starr on Twitter: 

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  • glsfbg

    Interesting how you have not defended Hillary. You simply attack Trump. You do not address the fact that this was a very bad, binary choice. Note: although Hillary claims that the foundation distributes 90% of proceeds the actual foundation tax returns indicate that only 6% of proceeds have been paid out. Also note that the Red Cross is a very low bar to exceed. Please advise how much Hillary or Bill will now be paid for speeches when she no longer has any political influence. Also note that contributions to the foundation have declined precipitously now that the Clintons no longer have political or governmental influence. The nation has spoken. Get over it.

  • Reb_Yaakov

    People tend to vote on the basis of ideology, not on the basis of the personal qualities of the candidates. Judaism outlines the qualities it deems to be important in its leaders. Perhaps many strains of Christianity do, too. But most people are seduced by secular ideologies and the self-validation they provide. These are the idols of our time.

  • Bernard Starr

    An honest guy? What news sources are you reading? Have you not heard about Trump University and the Trump “charitable” foundation? Do you think that Trump refuses to release his tax returns because they show honesty? If there were any hint of honesty in his returns he would be bragging about it and eager for every one to see his “honesty.” Is honesty reflected in the fact checks on what he said during the camping revealing that 74% of what he said were lies? And have you not heard about the documentation of him cheating contractors and workers.? Go to his hotel in Washington and walk on the Chinese steel infrastructure–steel that he says Americans shouldn’t be buying and that he will bar as president. Is all this what adds up to honesty in your dictionary.

    • glsfbg

      Trump hasn’t been investigated by the FBI. He hasn’t lied to Congress. He hasn’t been accused of compromising U.S. security. He hasn’t used a charity to defraud the people of Haiti. Compared to the putrid Hillary Clinton he smells like a rose. This was the choice the American voters were given. Again, it was a malodorous choice but Mrs. Clinton was a much bigger liar and far more smelly. Perhaps the political parties will nominate better candidates in 4 years. Mrs. Clinton may well be incarcerated or pardoned by then.

  • glsfbg

    An open letter to Bernard Starr:
    This election gave voters a malodorous choice . The choice was between a despicable, crooked, lying witch and an obnoxious, honest guy. Fortunately the voters chose the obnoxious but honest guy over crooked and dishonest. I am no expert on evangelical Christianity but I’m sure that there is something in their moral code that informed their decision. I am a proud citizen who is proud of the choice that the voters of the United States of America, including evangelical Christians, have made. G-d bless America and G-d bless evangelical Christians.